tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN December 10, 2014 9:00pm-11:01pm EST
violations that iran continues to make as the talks take place. will this be yet another violation of iran that we turn a blind eye to? secretary has called possible iranian action in iraq against isil as positive despite the fact that teheran's incessant meddling in baghdad and its stoking of sectarian tension in iraq and in syria has played a large part in the rise of isil. is it the administration's view that having a shiite iran the world's foremost supporter of terrorism, inspite of our nuclear talks, invade iraqi air space to attack sunni isil. does the administration view this as a positive development? on and syria, you testify that it is our goal -- not that it is an absolute necessity to find a future in syria that does not
include isil or assad, as you stated in your testimony and that relying on moderate rebels to defeat them both and usher in a political settlement, will the assad regime being supported by iran and russia as they are and with isil being so well financed, how will a group of rebels be able to defeat them both? and what would they need in order to accomplish that goal? the administration doesn't have a comprehensive policy to deal with all of the threats in iraq and syria and iran, nor does it seem to want one. these aren't realistic plans that can truly destroy isil, can defeat al news ra and defeat the assad regime. we haven't even begun the train and equip mission and we're about a year away from even standing that minimal force up, if ever at all. is that the case? where are we with that mission, sir? in my testimony, i did focus on
the concern about the militias and prime minister's batty to reign those in, all armed groups within the structures of state. i also focussed on the desire of this new government to have strategic independence in the in the region and that gets to his outreach to his arab neighbors and also the important outreach to on kra which is happening now which wasn't happening over the past few years. that's very important. iran is a fact in iraq. you have to look at a border -- at a map to see that with a 1,500 kilometer border. >> excuse me, sir, would you say that iran violated iraqi air space? >> i would to refer to my d.o.d. colleagues. >> if they did, would we -- would there be any consequences for that violation, one of many? >> well, it's up to the iraqi government to control its own air space. they lack the assets and resources to do that. i would mention on that score, the f-16 program is moving forward. the pilots are in training and we're working with jordan to
house those f-16s on a temporary basis before the bases in iraq are ready. >> if i could just on a few seconds we have left on syria, what is the latest with the train and equip mission? it doesn't seem that we've come very far. >> as you know that's a title 10 d.o.d. program and my d.o.d. colleagues can give you a substantial briefing on that. general allen and i have been to some of the host countries such as turkey, qatar and saudi arabia. we hope we can get those programs moving as early as march with the training to begin. >> is it the administration's view as you stated that assad must go, does that mean that he must be removed from power or are you just saying that he should not have a future in syria? >> well, we're focussed on a political transition process and there's two political tracts going on right now. one is led by the u.n. special representative looking at a bottom up approach getting to the chairman's question on
aleppo. we very much support that initiative to freeze the situation. secretary kerry has been in conversations with key stake holders in the region. but clearly nobody believes that bashar al assad can govern that state and bring it to any sense of stability -- >> do you think the rebels remove him from power? who is going to remove assad from power? >> again, my d.o.d. colleagues could discuss the military situation but we do not see a situation in which the rebels are able to remove him from power? it will be have to be a negotiated diplomatic process. >> just regarding the syria train and equip program. it's undprnt that the d.o.d. was unable to provide a witness today. we had made the request. we go now to mr. meeks of new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for this important hearing and thank you, mr. ambassador for being
here. as i'm sitting listening to your testimony and listening to the questions that are being asked, i understand that this is a complicated situation. it has been since we've been here. it's not easy. people have relationships in that region, some for decades, some for centuries against one another, different interests and we're trying to navigate all that. this is not a simple scenario. i can recall being at this hearing on this hearing room before where many of us and it's easy for us to be up here to think that it's simple. we thought it was simple to get rid of saddam hussein. we said it would take a few days. in fact, we got on a ship and said mission accomplished. a few days later, shock and awe. i'm glad we're not being this simplistic about this. the administration has been honest to say that it will take years to get this done. and to get it done right. not based upon emotion, not based upon trying, just get us
together so we can say ra-ra. but based on trying to get together with our allies in the region, those that got complicated relationships so we can try to figure out once and for all how do we get this done without it being just stuck on the united states and everybody then turning back against us. so it's complicated. it's going to take some time. we've got to figure this out. we've had some problems. that is what happens with complicated situations. it's not easy. if it was easy, anybody could do it. and so it's not easy for the united states of america. and when you look at this world that's smaller, we've got to deal with all of our other allies in the region who have their interests also and in today's world, they're not just saying, oh, we're going to do what the united states says against our own self interest. they have their self interest also and we have to figure out howie weigh that so we can knit and weave and put this together so we don't have an artificial
result that only lasts for a short period of time. so i understand that it's difficult. so my first question is toward what has been difficult with the iraqi government -- past government. and i know there's just been an agreement with baghdad and ebril. so my question is, how is that? because i know that when you look at kazakhstan that's a difficult situation historically and the mall key government, they were not doing the right thing so that curd stan was getting some of the dollars that it needed from the central government. can you tell us how is this landmark agreement that was reached i think it was just reached last week again between the central government and the curd stan regional government, what is the likelihood that it will hold and how will payments be made to the kurds so we can fix this scenario that has also been historically something that has been a problem in the past? >> thank you for your excellent
question and you're absolutely right. this is an extremely complicated situation. it's viewed different from every capital we go to, viewed differently from different groups within the countries that face in the conflict zone and the middle east right now is going through a historic transformation. it's up to us to protect and advances those interests which we're working to do with our coalition partners. the oil deal is significant. it's something we've worked on almost ten years. we almost got there back in march. the same deal was on the table in march but simply couldn't get over the line with the government that was in place back then. the new government, as i mentioned in my testimony, is totally different across the board. more pragmatic actors and people who are able to get around a table and figure it out. i they figured out a win/win solution. under this solution, the curd stan region will export about 550,000 barrels a day. 300 barrels coming from cur kuk. that's a controversial part of the landscape.
but taking oil from those fields and exporting it through the north, through the curd stan region and turkey about 300,000 from kirkuk, all of that revenue will come into the central account and 17% will go to the curd stan region. this is a breakthrough accord. another part is that $1 billion within the new government will go to the kurdish. the first time the iraqi government very clearly saying we will fund our brave kurdish fighters who are fighting alongside us against isil. this is a big deal. it's a breakthrough. now, will there be problems in implementation moving forward? yes. we have to work through those and the iraqis as well. it's a significant sign they got this done. it's a very hopeful moment. i was on the phone with the iraqi leadership in baghdad with the kurdish leadership very shortly after and there was a really a mood of tremendous optimism, something i have not heard in some time and i worked on this specific issue for a period of years. so i think your questions are very insightful one and i think the oil agreement is just
indicative of where we are in iraq and the foundation that we've built. given where we were six months ago today, it was hard to see back then where we might be today but it really gives us some hope for the future. but again, the iraqis have to work out the details. it will be difficult. there will be setbacks as you said. nothing is easy. it's complex. but it's -- it was a significant breakthrough and the testament to the iraqi leadership to really get it done. >> thank you. >> mr. joe wilson of south carolina. >> thank you, chairman reuss fsh your determined leadership and chairman reuss thank you also for your early warnings of the threat of isis to american families. and mr. ambassador, thank you very much for being here today. the american people need to know the threat of the murderous idology of isis. last week abc news reported isis spokesman called upon followers in the u.s. and europe to attack members of military. he went on to say, quote, do not
ask for anyone's advice and do not seek anyone's verdict. kill the disbeliever whether he is a civilian or military for they have the same ruling. both of them are disbelievers. both of them are considered to be waging war, end of quote. this is a grow tesk idology that we face in our coalition partners face and i believe it's important that we never forget how grow tesk it is. additionally we need to know they carry signs, death to america, death to israel. their creed a mass murder is quote, we believe in death more than you value life. having that in mind, again, you've got quite a challenge. but we do have allies and i'm particularly grateful the kurdish regional government in iraq has been a success story of economic development for its people and as opposition to extremists. the american no-fly zone saved thousands of lives.
the administration claims the kurdish are our primary u.s. partners in the efforts against islamic state. yet as of mid-october, the administration's only provided rifles, small armers, mortars to the kurdish forces. i'm really concerned that the president's actions don't match the threat. does the administration tend to be more robust in equipping the kurdish forces to commence offensive operations against isis and under what time line? >> let me discuss the situation of arming the pesh mer ga because i've been involved with them. we've worked out two detailed lists one in august and two in september and with the government of iraq and delivered everything on those lists. and again, i just want to go back to the fact that we have a new government now. every request for weapon systems from the curd stan region have been approved. we have a new minister of
defense, from mosul. he went to see the president. and he has committed to getting the supplies to the curds that they need. i was just in berlin last week. the germans are supplying the pesh mer ga significant anti-tank munitions. so we are very focussed on this. we're acutely focussed on it. but what is important is that unlike some of the tension we had with the last government, we have very strong cooperation now. there's been about 40 cargo flights. they land in baghdad first but then they immediately go to supply the pesh mer ga with the weapons and supplies they need. we're working on this everyday. we have joint operations centers set up in the curd stan region. i've been to them. i went to dehook to see the president when he was commanding some of his units in an offensive near the border crossing. we're working with them everyday, but we work through this and our military colleagues work through what are the requirements, what do you need, how do you get them? we've went around the world to source getting t 62 tank rounds to make sure that the 100 tanks
that the kurds have are fully resourced with the ammunition they need. this is an on going day to day activity and we're fully seized of it. >> and do you anticipate that the pesh mer ga would be on offensive operations and not just defensive? >> well, they are on offensive operations, congressman. they taken back nearly all the territory that was seized from isil when isil launched its offense in august. the one exception being sin jar and we think that will kick off after the winter season. and that pesh mer ga importantly they're working very closely with iraqi forces to take been the mosul damn. the counterterrorism service was working side by side to take back the mosul damn and the operation at the border crossing was done in coordination. it's a significant development. given where we were six months ago and after isil moved into the curd stan region, the kurds have pushed back very
effectively. they've taken hundreds of casualties as has v the iraqi security force. we're working with them to help plan and conduct operations. when they mount their operations, we provide them with air cover and air support. >> i want to join with my colleague from queens actually a native of south carolina and point out how pleased i am that there has been an agreement in regard to oil between iraq and the kurdish regional government. i yield the balance of my time. >> thank you. >> we go now to new jersey. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing and thank you for being here with us and always being straight forward with us. you know, as i sit here in these hearings, we talk about retraining and training. i just read a report about two or three weeks ago where they had the iraqis had 50,000 soldiers that were on a payroll that never showed up.
i mean, to me, this system that we're going to try to retrain again and spend billions of dollars and maybe not be as effective as they were. the other thing is, we talk about a new government being more pragmatic. i think it's just the reality that hit them that if they really don't work and change their ways, they're going to lose their country. i mean, people have poured billions of dollars into this country to try to straighten them out. now they've become pragmatic. i think it's just a reality that has hit them that they have to. imply mentation of some of these accords, i was concerned with the kurdish getting all the weapons they needed but they had to go through baghdad. so it was difficult for them to get it to the kurdish. these are the kind of things. the last thing i'll just talk about is spreading the conflict in the area. i read some articles where lebanon was concerned that there
was activity in lebanon and they're asking for more arms and more support so could you speak to that also? thank you very much. >> well, lebanon was a participant at the conference we had in brussels last week at the coalitioned a min stair yal chaired by secretary kerry. they were at the table with their foreign minister as were the other neighbors. turkey had 1.8 million refugees from syria. we have to remember the burden that's taking on turkey and lebanon. we're doing all we can to help sure them up. it's extremely difficult. and again, the lebanese are very concerned about this, in particular, the enroads that isil is making into its borders. so, all of our partners in the region the countries neighboring syria, lebanon, iraq, turkey and jordan are central to the efforts of this coalition. and what we heard in brussels
around the table 60 different members of the coalition, countries from all around the world talking about the fact that we need to help our friends who are suffering from this crisis. so we're very focussed on it and i can come follow up with a more detailed briefing particularly on lebanon or other neighbors. >> i'm happy you raised the issue with jordan because i understand they're getting more aggressive, more active in demonstrations and aggressive activities. can you talk a little bit about that? >> well, jordan is also a front line state and as you know, the refugees that they've taken in as really take an toll on their resources. king abdul la was just here i think it was last week. general allen and i saw him in amman about a month ago working very closely with jordan both on the security side about suring up the defenses of their board rer and also trying to limit the extremist presence in southeast syria. there's a lot of focus on the aleppo pocket in northern syria
which is a focus to the turks and us and everyone. jordan is more focussed on the other areas. we need to help them. but jordan is a front-line state and that's why we're providing them substantial security assistance and humanitarian assistance to deal with the refu yee crisis. our friends in the region are just impacted by this crisis everyday and that's why part of the president's central policy in his counterterrorism support in building partner capacity is focussed on this very issue, the neighbors of syria in making sure they can with stand this crisis as best they can. >> can you talk a little bit about camp liberty and any of the abuses by the iraqis? i know you're on the discussion. >> i get a briefing on this every single day and get reports from both the residents and also from the united nations. and as you know, the united nations monitoring teams confirms to us about human tear
supplies and the other all situation at the camp. we look at it every single day. my colleague jonathan winer who is our senior adviser is in albania today with a team with dhs represented as well and we've gotten about 600 residents of camp liberty out of camp lib ter and out of iraq to safety over the past year and we're looking to increase that number this year. albania has been very helpful in this regard and jonathan winer has really done a tremendous heroic courageous job at getting this moving and i think the new government will be more cooperative. we want to get all of the residents at camp liberty as i testified before out of iraq to safety. that's our goal. and we're working with partners around the world to try to achieve that goal. right now albania has been extremely cooperative and we should thank them for taking in hundreds of residents and the residents are assimilating quite well in albania. but my colleague is there now discussing this issue and i'm sure he would be happy to come
follow up with you. >> thank you very much. >> per that issue, i would just point out when senator kerry was here, we raised this issue of on supporting the kurds. not selling them the heavy weapons, the heavy equipment and the armor they needed, the anti-tech missiles. i'll quote from his testimony, no we're not. you are. we're adhering to u.s. law passed by congress. if you want to change it, fix it, we invite you. i would just point out that i put out bipartisan legislation to change that, to allow us to directly sell the weapons they needed to the kurds and then the administration opposed the legislation that we had been invited to put into change it. so, just for the record, i would raise the point that the argument has changed.
>> mr. chairman, i feel your pain on crimea, too. >> yes. it's a moving target and a moving argument. we go now to judge poe of texas. >> i thank the chairman. there's no question about it that isis, as i call them, they're a bunch of bad people who just commit murder. and we are doing battle with isis. the united states has been in middle east with boots on the ground for a long time. ambassador, would you say that the united states is at war with isis or not? >> congressman, having seen it up close, i would say we are at war with isis, yes. >> it seems to me that our strategy is twofold at this point or maybe threefold. send aid to different groups,
countries. there are 60-something nations i understand are in the coalition to fight isis. one is to do air strikes as the chairman has mentioned the success of those air strikes depends on who you're talking to. i do not believe they have been quite as successful as we had hoped they would be. the other is to take syrian moderate rebels, vet, train and equip them to go back to syria and defeat isis. how many of those people have been vetted, trained and equipped and sent back to syria to fight isis? >> congressman again, it's a d.o.d. program -- >> it's not. you're the ambassador. you represent the state department, you're not the states. we're at war with this country that we're at war with isis. you can't tell me politically whether we have armed, vetted,
armed and trained anybody yet and sent them back to syria to fight isis? you can't give that answer. >> i did answer it. the answer right now is no. >> so non. >> it was designed to be a long-term program and we hope -- >> i understand, beard. just a second. no, you wait a minute. i'm asking the question. you give the answer. the answer is, we have not trained any -- none of them are back over there. meanwhile, isis is beheading people and committed all kinds of atrocities, but our plan, if i understand our strategic plan, it's to help aid, it's to drop bombs, it's to train mercenaries to go back and fight isis in syria, none of which have been trained. how long is it going to take before we get all those people that are being trained in saudi arabia back in syria to fight? how long do you think it will take? >> well, congressman, the program is to train 5,000 per year and the training we hope will start in march. so --
>> so a year from march? >> and the program is to build -- >> a year from march? >> about 5,000 by then. we have to be very -- >> excuse me, beaambassador. i'm not clear. 5,000 in march that will be trained or will it be a year from march, 2016 before we have those 5,000 fighters that we send back to syria. >> it's 5,000 trained per year. and part of the reason is because of the vetting standards we're very being careful about this. we're not sitting on our hands. >> excuse me, ambassador -- >> excuse me, mr. ambassador. answer the question. is it 5,000 in 2016, in march, where we hope that's our plan to have them trained by then? >> the training we hope will begin in march. we hope -- >> but it will take a year to train 5,000 people. >> yes, that's right. >> so march of 2016. then we have a plan, then we have fighters, then we send them to syria. there's no telling what isis can do in that year and however ever months it is. is the united states have some other strategic plan other than
arming these folks that aren't going to show up until 2016, dropping bombs, that are marginal whether they've been successful, and helping with military aid to some of these coalition countries. is there a strategic plan overall that you know about in the state department? >> yes. the train and equip program is one small element in an overall campaign and this is a multi-year campaign and phase one, phase one is iraq. what we're doing in syria right now is degrading isil's capacity. every time we've had a local force on the ground that we can work with. kobani is a good example of this. >> reclaiming my time. what are we doing in syria right now? people are dying in syria and the calvary isn't showing up until 2016 the way i understand it. is that correct? >> those trained and equipped units are not the only units on the field that we can work with in syria. >> who else? >> we're working in kobani with a number of units.
>> who are these people? >> iraqi, kurdish thanks to a deal we worked up with the turks. >> they working in syria or iraq? >> in syria. we brought them -- kurdish from iraq -- >> last question. i'm sorry i'm out of time. last question, are we going to put more boots on the ground, american military in the middle east to defeat isis? >> the president's policy is not to put combat forces on the ground in iraq, but we have advisers and trainers that are working right now -- >> middle east. i'm not going to talk about iraq. in the middle east, are more americans going over to the middle east to defeat and fight isis? >> we have about 30,000 troops in the region now. >> are more americans going over to the middle east to defeat and fight isis? other than what's already right there. >> right now we have a large substantial force in the middle east. i don't see the need for more.
>> i yield back. >> mr. conley? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. ambassador, certainly i think most of us wish success in your endeavor, but i have to confess to you, listening to you makes me feel like i'm in the scene of the wizard of oz. we're being counciled to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. meaning the previous iraqi government, which we supported way too long in terms of ma lacky and the damage he did in absolutely severing relations between the shia and the sunni, which contributed mightily to the rise of isis. and frankly to the loss of moderates, not only in iraq but spill over in syria. i mean, you said to us, pay attention to the fact that we
have a new government. yeah, it's kind of relatively new, but when one looks at measures of progress, one dispairs frankly, ambassador. i'm fixated on what constitutes progress? we have used metrics in the past about how many iraqi troops we trained in the past. how did that work out for us? they melted away. now we have isis, one of the best funded, best equipped terrorist organizations on the planet, thanks to u.s. assistance. not because we intended it, but because our ally in iraq collapsed. comprehensively. now we're talking about well, maybe, what we have to do is have a smaller, you know, fast force that can go in. we'll train them. we won't train hundreds of thousands and they'll do it. you've talked in response to judge poe about the training and
we all hope that works. but i don't think -- i don't know anyone who seriously thinks that you can train effectively even with successful vetting 5,000 insurgents who are moderate and maybe secular and they'll be reintroduced to syria and turn the tide. in fact, all of the indications are the moderate, you know, are part of the insurgency such as it is has collapsed in syria. is actually losing ground cat strofically, almost to the point of extinction. and so you decided decentralization, security reforms and the new government is reaching out to regional capitals as if that is going to turn the tide. maybe you didn't intend for that. i guess, i would like to see ef cay shous metrics with respect to the subject of this hearing which is are we making progress? how do we measure progress in an ef cay shous way, not a feel-good way, not a
check-the-box way. how do we measure progress given the fact that this administration has said the end goal with respect to isis is destruction. i don't hear anything from your testimony and i hear nothing in the so-called metrics of progress reported here today that would give me or frankly anyone at this dice confidence that we know what we're doing and that we have any fair chance at all to return to the wizard of oz and actually be a powerful wizard. i just don't see it. could you please comment on the metrics we've got and the reason we should be confident that those metrics will lead to, quote, progress, unquote. >> well, it's a very good question and we try to take an empirical data driven approach as much as possible to what is a very complex situation. one data i look at every month are the suicide bombers coming
into iraq. we had -- we went from to 5 to 11 a year up to 35 went up 30 a month, sometimes 50 a month. the month before the iraqi elections in april we had 50. it is coming down when i look at the indicators. i can't tell you if that's a trend or simply an amomly but right now it's coming down. we're looking to see the reforms that this new government is making and without an iraqi commitment long-term we probably won't succeed. but if you look at what the government has done in 100 dies, it's abolished the office of the commander in chief which was an irritant to the sunnis and centralized all security responsibility in the office of prime minister. terminated almost three dozen problematic security commanders. it has identified as it has said 50,000 ghost soldiers on the role which is san anti-corruption mechanism. so it is taking steps that we wanted to have taken. to change the government, congressman, we couldn't just say, we have to have a new government. we had to get to elections.
iraqi had elections on april 30th, earlier this year. for those elections to happen, we had to work over the course of dwern to get the elections system in place to get the mechanisms in place and have u.n. oversight to make sure they were genuine and credible. they happened on april 30th and set the conditions to get to a new government. this was a multi-year process. we have a new government now and it is taking some measures that we find promising. >> as i said, mr. ambassador, i want you to succeed. i hope you succeed. but just as i think some of the criticism of the administration with respect to syria was very fasle and i single out two prominent members of the other body who were all too quick to say there were easy answers and the administration wasn't doing enough as if we knew who to support in syria. we on our side can't be overle facile either in the difficulties we face and the goals we set for ourselves. and i am very fearful at the end
of the day that those goals are not realizable. they're not realistic and we can't really set up metrics that are ef cay shous. thank you, mr. chairman. my time is up. >> arizona. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. ambassador, i apologize. i'm just getting my voice back. you're going to be real thankful about that. but the fact is, i think many members today on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns that maybe the administration's posture is more defensive than offensive. and that as such, the isis controls roughly as much property as they did five months ago or territories as they did five months ago. the president described the training of the free syrian army as the tip of the spear on the ground game. and we're learning they're not going to start the training
until march of next year. now, yesterday the secretary left the door open for u.s. ground troops at the senate armed -- excuse me, senate foreign affairs committee. for the record, that is a pivot. you've stated that the president has promised over and over again we didn't need to have you say that, we heard him say the same things. and i'm -- i believe that ultimately u.s. ground troops are going to be essential to completely defeat and not just contain isil as i believe the current administration policy is. so my first question is when can we expect the administration to come to congress for an authorization for the use of military force? and i don't believe that the one that was passed ten years ago was adequate. this is a hybrid. i do want to do everything within my power as other members have said of eradicating and
defeating isis and not just containing them. my second question is that recent reports indicate that our allies are concerned about the u.s. commitment to this fight and some are threatening to withdraw from the coalition. what are we going to do to reassure them and keep them in the coalition? and what are we going to do to get back on the offense and not so much on the defense? those are my questions. >> on the umf, congressman, as you know, secretary kerry devoted an entire session to this yesterday before the senate foreign relations committee and he made clear we're prepared to work very closely with the congress. there is legislation being drafted in the senate, particularly from chairman menendez which secretary said we're willing to work on and we find some very promising elements there. i think the secretary was also pretty clear the president has been clear that his policy is that u.s. military forces will not be deployed to conduct
ground combat against isil. we don't want to tie the hands of the commander in chief given a very uncertain environment and you could face a bad situation. but this will come within the give and take with congress about what the actual terminology will be. in terms of the coalition, this is why it was important that we had this conference in brussels last week because we brought every member of the coalition together. they signed or joined a very detailed joint statement whiches out the way forward and i'll make sure you have that if you haven't seen it. it is significant. it brought countries all around the world focus on the same problem and how about to proceed. that is the kind of initiative that can help keep the coalition together and general allen and i in our travels are very focus on this and there will be a lot more over the next month in keeping it together. right now we think the commitment is very firm. in terms of offense, i have to say, the last time i testified here, we had done no air strikes that wasn't too long ago.
we now done last i looked i got the most recent numbers 1219 air strikes, 689 in iraq and 530 in syria. our coalition partners have done 208 of those air strikes. what's different about past campaigns is that our air strikes now are focussed on very precise intelligence and we are striking with pretty devastating effect and to date and, you know, we have to be very careful about this but we've been very careful about making sure we have no civilian casualties in these attacks. we talked about the state of the overall campaign and he is very focussed on that because we want to keep the population as much as possible on our side. and our strikes to date have been very precise, very effective and i can just tell you by getting the reports every morning we are hitting the targets we seek to hit. we are hitting the leadership targets. we're hitting the mobile refineries. we hit about 22 of them which is really impacting isil's ability to finance itself. we're hitting the command and control cells.
we have completely destroyed isil's ability to mass and maneuver force. what it was able to do so effective it masses force, they would do these swarming maneuver tactics with heavy armored vehicles and overrun anything in its wake. it can't do that anymore. that's an empirical sign of progress that we're making but we have to keep ate. >> mr. higgins of new york is recognized. >> mr. ambassador, you indicated earlier that the deal between prime minister abad di and the kurds was a big deal, that the central government in baghdad will permanently resume payments to curd stan representing 17% of the national budget, including a billion dollars to pay for the salaries of the pesh mer ga and weapons for them as well. and why is it important?
because to date there hasn't been an effective count vailing fighting force in iraq. now there appears to be. the pesh mer ga estimates are about 190 fighters. they've proven to be reliable. they're experienced, and they've also proven to be reliable allies to the united states in our involvement in iraq. iraqi officials now want to push for a winter offensive in mosul. and american officials, it's been reported, are concerned that this schedule is a little too ambitious. can you explain that? >> let me first say on the pesh mer ga -- one additional point i want to make addressing your question in about how we're kind of in a new era here. part of our plan is to train and equip, as you know, 12 iraqi ber gads. three will be kurdish.
and those units will receive the same western weapons vehicles equipment as the iraqi units that we're training and equipping. this is all done in cooperation between baghdad and ir bill. in terms of mosul, it's an on going discussion we have with the iraqis about how best to prosecute this campaign. i would just caution that i think we have to be very prudent in our expectations and the the one thing we want to do is manage expectations. i have said repeatedly the president has said, the secretary has said this will be a multi-year campaign. and nobody wants to rush into mosul or a city that is held by i-s-i-l before the conditions have been set. it's an on going situation with the iraqis about how to proceed, when to proceed and what area and not another? >> how many isis fighters are in and around mosul today? >> it's hard to say.
we think it's probably the last i've seen in the low thousands. the leaders in mosul we've taken off the battlefield. >> give me that number again, estimate? >> the last i've seen are the low thousands. >> meaning what? >> 3,000? >> i can't give you a precise number but that sounds about right. >> this hybrid force that you talk about between isil and the -- between the pesh mer ga and the iraqi national army would represent 20,000, 25,000 fighters? >> roughly depending on how you count the size of the ber gad. >> 20, 25,000 is a reasonable estimate? >> reasonable. >> reasonable. okay. >> what's the size of the population of city of mosul. >> 1.5 million. >> 1.5 million. and we don't believe that a offensive is advisable right now because the hybrid fighting
force is not ready yet, hasn't had the proper training? >> well, we want to set the conditions before. one thing we've learned is that you don't want to move into -- >> what are the conditions? >> an urban combat environment before the conditions have been set. well, you want to work with the local population. we're working, in fact, with the government and other local leaders in anyone noah who are now located in regions right near mosul making sure a police force is set and once isil is kicked out of mosul to make sure there's something to maintain law and order and bring services and stability to the community there which will have been suffering under isil's rule for some time. the point is you have to get this right. you can't rush into it and that is why we have these joint operation centers and are working day and day hand in glove to plan these. >> would you characterize -- >> it's hard to say. it's hard to say. >> has their momentum been broken? >> i think there are signs that the tide is beginning to turn,
that the population is turning on them. >> has that hurt their recruiting efforts? >> it's hard to say but there are enough signs that they're having a hard time in mosul specifically paying their fighters. they're having a hard time getting fuel. the refinery, congressman, they tried to seize the refinery in june. they needed it for the fuel they would need to make sure that mosul had the lights on. they failed. there was a very heroic fight put up by iraqi forces six months ago. just a couple weeks ago were able to break that siege and isil has no chance now. >> my time has expeered. thank you. >> thank you very much. pennsylvania is recognized. >> thank you, madame chair. welcome, ambassador. it's good to see you again. as we say in pennsylvania, your position is between a rock and a hard place here with us and the
talks that go on at the white house. i'm a member of the nato parliamentary alliance and routinely get comments from our members that -- asking is the president taking this seriously? is the president taking isis seriously? after listening to senator kerry's testimony just recently, i get the impression and you folks may be frustrated too, the president is trying to mic micromanaging this and not listening to you and to the military personnel. >> it's hard to say. >> i do speak up to my other nato colleagues and say any time you want to join in and contribute, we would be more than glad to have you on board. but with that said, you know, we didn't attack isis when they were leaving syria going into iraq. i think that was a major mistake.
i want to ask you -- and i know what you talk about in the oval office and what you can say here not by your choice maybe a little different. we made a mistake by not doing that. would you agree with me? >> what's your question? >> by not attacking isis when they were leaving? because remember the president said in an interview with the new yorker magazine that, there were junior varsity basketball players. what has changed that they're not junior varsity anymore and why did we not -- was there an opportunity to attack them leaving syria going into iraq? >> well, i testified about a year ago some things that we were doing at that time. but all i can say as soon as mosul fell, i was on iraq, i was on a video conference with president obama and we acted immediately to set the conditions for what we're doing now. and the president made decisions within the earliest hours of mosul falling to get special forces into the field to see what was happening and to get
our intelligence overhead to set up joint operations centers and that help set the conditions for being able to fight black. most importantly for working with the iraqis they got a new iraqi government up. it's a strategic foundation we have that we did not have back in june or really the past year. >> i'm not going to second guess you and sit here and question the decisions on getting the information that we needed before you could go in and do what you decided to do. i mean, i would just would not do that. but should we increase air strikes and can we increase air strikes? i do take particular notice and agree with you on your urban combat situation. so, could we increase air strikes and pound isis even more? >> i think in going to the point of how careful we are being, there's -- i think you'll see air strikes increase as iraqi
offensive operations increase because when there are on going op rags, we're able to strike targets in support of those operations and our limitations are not as narrow as when we strike targets simply by our intelligence picture. so, when iraqis are moving in the field and then when isil begins to show itself, our air strikes increase. so you might see an increase in the numbers. but again the numbers i just gave are pretty significant. i just got a report when i was coming here in the car, we've done over the past couple days we struck targets just in iraq in mosul, al qa'im, kirkuk, so we are -- to say we're extremely serious about this, we're offensive minded and taking the fight to isil every single however. >> would we be in a better position -- i'm playing monday morning quarterback, would we have been in a better position to leave troops in iraq instead
of pulling them out? >> i'll let the historians sort that out. there's a lot that went into those decisions, but i'm really focussed on where we are right now. >> well, you pretty much answered the question for me and i know you have a fine line to walk, but there's no doubt in my mind, we left there way too soon. it was the president's agenda. and now he realizes that we're up against -- our backs are up against the wall here. with that i yield back my time. >> if i could say real quick. >> please. >> it's significant to point out we left in 2011 under an agreement in 2008 and one issue from the moment we invaded iraq is that we invaded iraq. we weren't invited into iraq. what is significant about right now and this was really apparent to me when i was iraq last month that the iraqis have now invited us in to help them. it's a totally different environment than our presence in the past. and it gives us kind of a new foundation in which to operate
in iraq is significant. right up until the end of our presence in iraq, it was extremely controversial that we were there at all. >> mr. ambassador, i have to cut you off because i will recognize the you off. i will recognize the remaining members to four minutes each. i know you need to leave by 12:15. >> thank you, madame chair. thank you, mr. ambassador, for being here today, to discuss the implementation as it relates to our strategy to defeat isis, an area of tremendous difficulty. i believe there's no military solution to the conflict in iraq and syria and i have continued to have very deep reservations about the efficacy of the military actions we've taken particularly as it pertains to the equip and train rebels.
this will lead to a deepening of our involvement in sectarian civil war. to the extent that you can comment, it would be extremely helpful. international coalition to fight isil on a global scale. could you share more details about the progress we made in building that coalition, what the barriers have been to sustaining the coalition? particularly as it relates to the train and equip programs, what kind of response we've had from war wary countries and how they're working together to share the burden of responding to this global threat. yunded kingdom, belgium, denmark are involved in the air strikes. there are no regional partners. that raises concern about this notion of outside the region engaging in this military conflict. would you talk a little bit about where we are in building a
meaningful coalition? not just kind of photo-op but people really committed to this effort and how they're sharing the burdens of this fight against sois? >> thank you, congressman. we built this from scratch. the president and secretary kerry. we brought the gcc together and other key partners, meeting in jetta, which issued a very strong communicae. and u.n. general assembly later that month, we began to build this coalition. in jetta, the focus was joining an air campaign in syria. once those air strikes start, you saw the regional states, ua sbechlt e and qatar were part of
those. 60 members joined am brussels for a cooperative effort. there's a different role for everyone country to play. the military side, we have the air campaign. we also have now substantial contributions developing to support the train/eequip effort in iraq. we have qatar, turkey, saudi arabia supporting the train/equip area for syria. foreign fighters, president obama chaired pretty extraordinary security council session at the u.n. general assembly and passed a chapter 7 resolution on foreign fighters that had the most response in history i'm told. we're having real progress. we're seeing foreign fighters cells broken up. this wasn't happening 90 days
ago. on counter finance, the same thing. kuwait has passed legislation, in working with other partners in the gulf. i could go objen. the coalition is extremely meaningful, considering we built it from scratch 90 days ago. i saw president obama and secretary kerry work this directly with the world leaders to pull this together, really extraordinary. and with the appointment of general allen -- >> thank you very much. >> each of the respective countries. we would benefit from a real understanding. >> mr. duncan of south carolina. about the situation in iraq and
the collapse of iraqi army in the face of isis. i just wanted to comment, provide an answer to him. i think it's the elephant in the room that nobody wanted to talk about. this is the fact that we prematurely left iraq campaign promise to be out of iraq by the end of his first term. and even after prime minister maliki offered troops there. the president wanted to see iraqi parliament cast vote on that, which they did and it failed. so, ambassador, sitting here, listening to this and the president really fails to articulate what success in iraq or success against isis or isil looks like. i'll ask you. and a little bit of my time to define success. what does success look like to
you against isis? >> what we're looking at is helping iraqis control their sovereign space. they do not control a third of their country. degrading isil in syria. huge swath of territory in syria, number two. leading ultimately to political transition in syria, which will be extremely difficult. the first phase of this campaign, it's helping iraqis regain control of sovereign territor territory. >> let me shift gears here. success against isis is reclaiming all the land in iraq that we lost. liberating action. >> i don't think that's been
determined yet. i know who is friendly. that's the kurds. they've been there since 1990 when we first went in the gulf war and have been there with america against the iraqi governme government. iraqi soldiers cut and run in most. who didn't cut and run was the kurdish fighters. who didn't cut and run in the face of a bull dozer who was armored, they didn't cut and run. they actually ran toward the bull dozer to try to stop it. 25 or so kurdish fighters lost their lives. they didn't have the necessary armament and ability to stop that and some of the other weapons that isis now has and using in theater. my question to you is this. does the administration tend to more robustly equip the kurdish forces to commence? other than small arms, pistols, rifles, small arms, what else are we going to give our friends and kurds to fight isil?
>> i discussed this earlier. we're going to be gisk them a lot. >> if i asked them, would you they say that? >> the same western equipment than any iraqi brigade would have. >> perhaps more of a defensive postu posturing. >> anti-tank rounds to everything else. and that list has been worked up with the iraqis and the kurds. to offload this equipment. i agree with you that the peshmerka have been brave fighters and iraqi fighters south of the kurdistan region have been extremely heroic. that went on for six months. >> thank you very much, mr. ambassador. mr. snichneideschneider?
>> thank you. thank you, mr. ambassador, for being here and for your service to our country. i would appreciate a more elaborate, written explanation. in your opening remarks, you indicated that it was going to take a long time. define that frame. and iraq and syria, can isil be defeated in one country and not the other? is this an either/or or do we have to do both? can isil be defeated in syria without first or at least simultaneous achievement of a political settlement in syria? can we achieve a political settlement in syria without pushing back or defeating isil? what can and should congress be
doing to push back, contain and ultimately defeat isil? with that i'll leave you with the remainder of the time. >> those are big questions. i thank you for your offer to follow up with those in writing. i don't want to put a specific timeframe on this. i think that would be. it's going to be a multi-year challenge. >> if i can, in the context, looking at the. >> it will last, in your pb, longer than that? >> we would like to see the iraqis over the next 12 to 18 mon months begin to restore control of the iraq/syria border. that process will begin over the next year. and we're working with iraqis on
a plan for that. in terms of congress, we have programs ready to go now, waiting for that authorization. thank you for all that the committee has done. >> can we defeat isil in iraq, give iraq autonomy again and not defeat them at the same time in syria to be effective? >> we made a determination to degrade isil's war-fight capacity, we would have to target them in syria as well. >> you have to do both. is it possible to push back against isil without simultaneously having a political solution and, as you said, a political solution that cannot and does not include assad? >> these things do go hand in hand. in order to get a political solution, you have to have a
counterweight to extremist groups like isil. that's what we're doing with the train/equip effort and some other efforts. >> i yield back my time. >> thank you, gentlemen. the chair will recognize the gentleman from illinois. please don't take any of this personally. you mentioned 25 given to the peshmerga, 2500 to the iraqi government. along a 650 mile border that the kurds have with isis. 25 mraps is really a joke. honestly. i know it's not your decision.
>> when i talked to our folks there, forces of fire and not -- take out an mrap better, it was crazy. also it's kind of fun on the committee to see all these kind of new hawks that i remember talking two years ago about what we were going to have to go back to iraq and people thought it was a joke and thought i was joking and here we are. >> devastating foreign policy decisions. up to the red line discussion, there was legitimate talk about getting bashir al assad out of office, give him money, send him somewhere with sanctuary. but we have to preserve the institutions of the state, had a new leader and actually solve
this had peacefully. today, there's no real discussion about bashir al assad leaving peacefully, because he has no incentive to. that's why i'm supporter of enforcing no-fly zone even against the assad regime. it changes the calculus in his mind to now understand maybe if his life is at threat he will peaceful peacefully leave syria. i frankly think that bashir al assad is the incubator of isis. even a terror group like isis looks better than the guy who has killed your wife and son, as he has done in so many cases. you mentioned -- by the way, we've heard recent reports even that the fsa is complaining of us cutting funding off to them and not even able to pay their soldiers anymore. i hope that's not true. that would be devastating. as a military guy myself, i expect a paycheck. it doesn't mean i'm any less of
a patriot. just means i have to support people when i was full-time active duty. one thing i do want to ask you, though, when we talk about, for instance, strikes in syria, you mentioned loiter time over syria, as having to come from the gulf. has there been any negotiations with turks in place to open up those bases? if so, what's been the administration's response? from what i understand, if there's an air exclusion zone, which the administration is n not -- in fact, i've heard that. i would like to you address that, sir. again, thank you for being here. >> congressman, again, thank you for your service. i think everyone still continues to work on this issue does it in the memory of everyone who has served and particularly lost their lives in iraq. >> and i appreciate that. >> that's central in all of our minds and why we need to get this right. future of syria, we're very clear, without isil or bashir al
assad and discuss the ways we want to go about that. >> let me say as i wrap up my time, i don't see any downside in a no-fly or exclusionary zone fsa. we're giving lip service to, bashir al assad would be an idiot to questionnaire superiority. >> gentleman's time expired. chair recognized committee. >> thank you for your extraordinary service to your country. thank you for coming back yet again. your testimony is always enlightening and thank you for the extraordinary amount of time, effort, energy that you have put into these issues. i wanted to ask you two basic areas, and i apologize if i'm asking you to repeat yourself.
apologize if i do. what mr. kissinger was touching on, allies in this effort on both sides of the assad debates, if you will, much of the testimony we've heard before this committee is that the draw for fighters into the region to begin with was against dallas sad. you stated that the overall end game in this, if you will, is a political transition of power or assad would leave. i have a hard time seeing how, at this point, there's any impetus to have assad go, as mr. kissinger pointed out. you said this was the first phase of this effort and potentially years long. what changes this calculus? how long best estimate, sir, do you think it takes for an armed -- or moderate syrian rebel force to actually be strong enough to fend off on one side isis and the other side
assad? >> key question, congressman. you look at the efforts of stefan demastura, frees the conflict in aleppo. he has discussed it with us and assad. we're supportive of those efforts but also concerned. we don't want another situation where you had a cease fire which basically was -- which the assad regime perpetuates his population. best we can do right now, politically is try to freeze the conflict in these areas, particularly aleppo. we're fully supportive of that effort. trying to get another political process going, moving forward with the key stake holders. that's an ongoing process. in terms of the force being able
to defend against these multi-threats it's extremely difficult. there are tens of thousands of moderate opposition fighters. my colleague in the state department, who has discussed talking to them every single day, they're very locally rooted, protecting their homes, protecting their neighborhoods. and we do want to make sure they can protect their homes and neighborhoods in communities against all these different threats. that's why i said particularly for the units we're going to try to train and equip, they will be used to fight isis but also defend themselves against the regime. >> mr. ambassador, then, if this is essentially the united states, and understanding the blurred lines between iraq and syria, continuing this fight in another middle eastern country for potentially years, i have a very hard time understanding how there's not additional or a new authorization for the use of military force that's going to be necessary in terms of
outlining what these efforts will ber going to be. >> some negotiations have already started. anything you suggest we should keep in mind as we debate that authorization which, candidly, from my observation, is months overdo? >> he did say we are prepared to work with congress very closely. it should include -- we don't think it should include a geographic location. we want to make sure that the commander in chief facing certain environment is maintaine maintained. >> thank you. >> time has expired. ambassador does have a meeting at the white house with hard departure time at 12:15. any members willing to take less time and yield back the balance
is appreciated. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you for being here. isis is an apocolyptic vision to destroy america. they're looking to come here. in order to you have to have a clear, defined mission. you laid that out in a three-phase scenario there. in the metrics you mentioned in there. who is on the ground right now? syrian free rebels?
>> any other countries, germany, france? >> but as far as boots on the ground? >> number of coalition. >> how about right now? >> canada, uk, australia. >> are they trainers or are they engaged? >> trainers and some advised in assist. number of coalition partners, 1500 total helping us. >> as far as boots on the ground, iraqis, syrian-free fighters, kurds? >> our ground force against isil are local forces. >> okay. in the middle east, it's in the state of flux. you said we have to protect
american interests. what are those? are they define d extremists, threats and extremist groups. 16,000 foreign fighters flowing into syria, iraq, getting combat experience and flowing outwards potentially here at home, that's a significant threat. is there a way to big broad war that never goes away. losing ground on it. the war on terror, the overseas contingency operation. our resources in a specific area
and is there an end game? a defeat of isil? is that something that, in your mind, is plausible? >> we want to cut off its finances, stop its foreign fighters and basically suffocate the entire organization. that's what we're focused on doin doing. >> here they are again. isil came out of that. and if we don't have a definition of completeness there's going to be isil part two. forces coming together and their mission is to bring the caliphate over here. you don't have time to answer that. if you could jot something down and enter it into the record, i would appreciate it. have a great day. >> thank you. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from california. four minutes.
members are reminded if they can yield back time, the ambassador has to leave in about 20 minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. obviously, this is complicated. you also laid out two prongs to that degradation, counter finance operation, to choke off isil's funding and then also breaking up the foreign fighters. how is the counter finance operation doing, drying up isil's sources of revenue and how that's impacting morale? >> i can give you anecdotes and come back in a different setting and give you some figures. we've taken offline 22 mobile --
240 paibarrels a day almost. i can give you the specific figures. in mosul, their ability to pay their fighters is substantially degraded and their ability to get fuel is also degraded. but we've got to keep at this. >> dough do we get a sense that those fighters on the ground, with isil right now, are they losing some of those fighters? >> they're losing fighters at a pretty substantial clip every week, based upon our air strikes. that's why kobani has been significant, flooding hundreds of fighters into kobani, indications we had some of their top fighters and we were able to deal with them quite effectively. >> and second part of the degradation mission, you referenced working with our
alliance partners and so forth, broad coalition of folks stepping up to produce the influx of foreign fighters. can you give us an update on what we may be seeing in those -- >> it's difficult to measure. isil's ideology -- it's propaganda, it's a war of flags. it's planting its flag wherever it goes. can you see that in its media products. we've been able to completely reverse that notion in the last 90 days. it was sewing this message if you come and join isis, come to syria, you will basically live this utopian fantasy. that fantasy is clearly not true. if gu to syria, you're probably going to get killed and if you go home, you're going to get arrested and prosecuted. i was in germany when an isil fighter was sentenced to three years in prison. the tide is turning. we just need to keep at this. >> are we seeing our -- the muslim countries in the region that are coalition partners stepping up, kind of the
anti-propaganda, anti-messaging? >> yes. they're extremely focused on that. in the interest of time i could provide you a fairly detailed written account to respond to that. >> that would be great. i will yield my time back. >> thank the gentleman for that. chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. web ber, for for minutes. >> you said earlier, ambassador, we don't want to tie the hands of the commander in chief. is he tying our hands, tying the military's hands? >> chairman of the joint chiefs, free-flowing conversation. i see no indication that hands are being tied. >> why do you suppose he's.
>> i suppose it comes out in the admin as opposed to -- why do you think that is? >> i'm not going to comment on pending legislation. i'm happy to work with the committee on legislation to advance these ideas. the draft i've seen, one of the preambular paragraphs talks about the need to resolve the issues expeditiously. we're now seeing that happening. >> 50,000. hopefully we're not sending that money anymore. are they still in a position of authority? >> 46 commanders have been terminated and new commanders have been appointed. >> confident that we rooted out that corruption of those 50,000? >> that was -- iraqi government made statements about this, they found situations in which soldiers were no longer active
and were still getting paychecks. meaning those paychecks were going to someone else. >> i'll try to yield some time. 22 mobile refineries, $80 a barrel, 20 barrels a day, $576,000 a month and $60 a barrel is $240,000 a month. are we tracking that? are we able to get into financial institutions? >> that's why we have a line of effort focused on the finance. we're taking all the tools in our sanctions tool kit, very effective to bringing to bear on this problem. >> very quickly so i can yield some time, who do we think is getting the most of that money? the banks, for example, or who is buying that oil, i guess i should say. is that turkey? >> a lot of it is smuggled through the kuristan region and turkey. >> let me yield back, mr. chair.
>> four minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you, sir, for your testimony here today. >> real good ideas of plans put forth and i think maybe that's the reason we have not done what i think we should have done, which is to take up and debate this so-called war against isil. and we have really authorize or not this war. >> are we giving supplies and money directly to the peshmerga or does it go through iraq government? that's question number one. number two, can we assume from your testimony that there is no
ongoing conversation for political settlement in syria and what would be your idea as to who would -- what the government would look like from a practical point of view if was not present. i would like to understand the general conditions in syria in terms of who is providing services to what segment of the population? >> peshmerga forces, there's kurds with us, with the central government. it seems to be working very well. if there are additional requests we'll sit down with them and continue to do that. >> you have to get permission from the iraq government, is that correct? >> it's not permission. it's a collaborative process.
the minister of defense has approved every single request that has come. we're in a bit of a new era here and we need to keep it moving the right way. >> principles of the geneva communicae, clear, transition process that the world has united around and secretary kerry, as i mentioned, has been involved with the key state to try to get that process on trac track. >> is anyone from syria involved in the process right now? >> my colleague, daniel rubenstein is in touch with syrians every single day. my office is almost right next to his, i see him on airplanes in the region. we are crisscrossing the region.
constantly in discussion with the syrians, particularly the opposition. >> what about mr. assad? >> there's a consensus that the future of syria with him at the helm will not be stable and we'll continue to feel this extremism. the process by which we have a transition, however, remains the long goal and attempt. >> i thank the gentle woman. chairman recognizes himself for four minutes. ambassador in terms of iran, do you believe that they can be a constructive force in the fight against isis? there's been some talk that they have sectarian differences with them, maybe that's good for us. what's your position? how are you conducting yourself, performing your duties with that in mind? >> no coordination. >> isil is a threat to iran and given the proximity and the border between iraq and iran that, you know, iran has a stake
in this. how they conduct themselves in full respect with iraqi sovereignty or not remains an open question. we've discussed this any foreign state whether it's us or iran. about the danger of unregulated militias operating. the state structures of iraq almost entirely collapsed six months ago today. we're rebuilding from there. it's going to be a very long process. and, you know, iran inevitably will have a role in this. it's an open question whether they want to play a role that's constructive or destructive. >> a lot of colleagues of mine are skeptical that iran can play a constructive role. the president wrote a letter to the ayatollah, it was reported. a lot of us are concerned about where that could go. iran does want to be involved in
any iraq but we think it's to sew more mischief. we pass the -- congress passed the mckeon amendment, what appropriately vetted rebels, how they could qualify to be vetted. now this week, we did have a 1600 page last week. i was reading through that and i noticed that the section about the train and equip, part a is substantially the same as the mckeon. part b, though, is new. not only do they not have to have terrorist ties and, b, they have to share a commitment for such elements. are you aware that that was in
the -- >> fairly consistent with similar efforts in the past. >> i think there's a difference between just not being a terrorist -- still a desire for an islamic state, sharia state, still be a sectarian fighter. rule of law and human rights means there are more pro-american fighters and it didn't seem to me that groups i saw on the ground and reports would qualify as great groups. it was kind of like the lesser of two evils. is this going to change the vetting, this language? >> doing this full time, we're working to generate classes to fill these training sites as early as march, is focused on the vetting. i defer the question to dod. >> i think it's a concern. training these guys in saudi, qatar is involved. those are not exactly states where there's a lot of --
>> we take control in the vetting, a critical criterion. >> i understand that. i yield back the balance of my time and recognize mr. doritch for four minutes. >> thank you for your continued good service. i want to follow up on the chairman's questions about iran. you said iran would play a role. we're concerned about the role they're already playing. reports said the leaders were on the ground in iraq. i'm not sure you've had a chance to do yet. can you confirm that they're still not cooperating with iran militarily at all? >> yes, absolutely. >> i would like to circle back to syria, which i think is related. with respect to the syrian opposition and the role that --
our efforts to strengthen plays in countering isis there's been a lot written lately about moderate opposition squeezed and we've heard from some groups here that u.s. air strikes are seen as helping assad in the fight inside syria. so if you accept that iran is on the ground in syria, that the opposition views the iranians as the most important player in propping up the assad regime, which has slaughtered over 2,000 people, if you add all that in how does the effect of both our isis operations on syria and the comments we've made while we're not cooperating with iran, air strikes are beneficial? how does all that play in the
ability of the moderates in syria to ever be able to cast off assad? >> again, one of your colleagues mentioned it's an extremely complicated situation. we're looking very closely and are concerned about the effort to exploit the fact that we are striking isil, which is a necessary -- degrading isil is a necessary condition to any future in syria, which would be stable and process for the syrian people. we're look at this extremely closely. given the earliest phase, phase one. at the same time we have. ink plot strategy as they begin to stabilize areas and obtain a
counterweight to extremists. >> it has looked to us and others and has said that it's years, war has been waged against us, over 200,000 dead. there hasn't really been any effort to take action to save lives or prevent the bombs from being dropped or provide cover for humanitarian aid. if that's the way they view it, what's the response to them when they now come back and say that still leaves open the possibility that assad can continue to slaughter us with
impunity? >> there's some efforts i can't discuss here. there's a lot going on here with moderate opposition groups. in a myriad of ways. we have conversations with them constantly. having a coherent plan, working with local forces and working with the moderate opposition to degrade isil in those areas and begin to recover from those operations, that is a significant interest, in our interest and the interest of the syrian people and moderate opposition. trying to work cooperatively together. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the ambassador has a hard stop. we want to really thank you for giving us the time that you have. and there's obviously a lot going on in this region.
it is complicated. we'll continue to monitor it. we know it's important for the security interest. thanks. this hearing is adjourned. thursday on c-span 3, senate foreign relations committee considers a measure to authorize military force against isis. it begins at 10:00 am eastern time. at 2:00 eastern, former, current and future chairmen of the republican study committee talk
about conservatives in the newly elected congress. watch live coverage from the american enterprise institute here on c-span 3. >> some of the programs you find on c-span networks, c-span's q and a, political reporters manu raju and john bresnahan talk about being on the campaign trail with senate mitch mcconnell. on c-span 2, saturday at 10:00, on after words, lindsay mark lewis and sunday at 10:00 pm eastern, senior correspondent for the daily beast, shane harris, on the military's use of cyber space to wage war. on american history tv c-span 3 saturday at 2:00, a panel including washington times opinion editor david keen on how ronald reagan's career as an actor and spokesperson for
general electric honed his skills. and sunday at 8:00, interview with president nixon. call us at 202-626-3400. e-mail us at commen comments @c-span.org or send us a tweet @c-span #comments. like us on facebook. follow us on twitter. >> the supreme court recently heard oral argument in the case of elonis versus the united states, sentenced to 44 months in prison for making threats to his wife and an fbi agent on facebook. at issue is when do threats made on line void free speech protections and become criminal?
john ellwood presents the case for mr. elonis. this is an hour. >> elonis versus united states. mr. elwood? >> mr. chief justice, and may it please the court, first amendment prohibits restrictions for a few well-defined, narrowly classes of communication, including what this court has called true threats. >> i'm not sure that the court did either the law or english language much of a good service when it said true threatening. it can mean so many things. that you really intend to carry it out, a. you really intend to intimidate the person or that no one could possibly believe. >> that's true.
>> we can't fault you for citing what the premium court said. it's an unhelpful phrase. >> it didn't help that it didn't have the benefit of merits briefing or argument. if you look at the tradition threatening speech was not punchable like common law. until the late 20th century. >> if you threaten somebody with violence and don't actually apply violence, it's still assault, isn't it? >> i think assault is somewhat different. it can also be an attempted battery. it's my understanding there is law that question assault when it involved placing somebody in fear did require a specific inten
intent. >> would a reasonable person think that the words would put someone in fear. and reasonable people can make that judgment. how can the government prove whether this threat in the mind of the threatener was genuine? >> i think two ways. and generally speaking. as we indicated in our brief, in order to prove up these threats be, which are increasingly made online using a cell phone or computer, you would have to search the computer and cell phone to show it was used to make these statements. >> people conduct their entire lives electronically. >> you'll find a lot of information on the cell phone
that the guy is really angry at his ex-wife and you know, would like to see her suffer. he's going to put it online. we're going to say, that was just therapeutic, as you said in your brief. >> it was therapeutic, yes. of course, it shows he was going to do something dangerous. it's a good thing he had this outlet of the internet so he didn't have to do it. >> the point is there's a lot of information you could find, visited a web page where she confided to someone else that she was in fear. >> i thought your whol point was that the fact that she's in fear doesn't tell you enough -- >> he visited a website at the time that he was aware -- >> reporter: based on.
>> all i understand is it's therapeutic, good thing i could do this or it's art. >> if he was on notice she was in fear, that's all we're asking for, he knows she's in fear he doesn't have a right to continue o on. >> could you tell me -- i'm sorry. could you tell me -- i'm coming a little bit off justice ginsberg's question. you can infer what a person's state of mind is from words. >> that is correct. >> isn't the jury acting as a reasonable person look at the words saying did he intend this
or didn't he? i mean, i don't know what the difference between the standard given and the one that you want. >> under the instruction given it doesn't matter what the defendant thinks but what a reasonable person would foresee that the listener would be placed in fear. >> but, i mean, how is that different from what you intend? if a reasonable person is going to read a word this way, aren't they going to assume that's what the defendant intended? >> but it's a negligent standard. it holds him to a reasonable person's standard regardless of whether he -- >> sort of along the same lines and getting back to what the chief justice asked you. i was a little surprised by your answer. i'm trying to figure out exactly
what the level of intent you want is. the very highest level might be by affirmatively want to place this person in fear. that's why i'm doing what i'm doing. there's a step down from that, which is i don't want to do that. i'm fulfilling my artistic fantasies, whatever you call it. but i know that i am going to place this person in fear, all right? which intent do you want? >> the second. >> the second? >> that if you know you're placing somebody in fear by what you're doing that is enough to satisfy our version of -- >> how about you take it a step down more, but not get to the government if you don't know to a certainty but know there's a substantial probability that you'll place that person in fear, which is what i take it we usually mean when we talk about recklessness? >> i think we would say recklessness is not enough. the court said in u.s. gypsum.
so i would say the same would apply here. traditionally, courts have applied in global tech, the supreme court, this court said that willful blindness satisfies took an extra step. >> what would be wrong with a recklessness standard? why is that too low? it seems it has a kind of buffer zone around it. it gets you up one level from what the government wants. who is the person that we should be worry ed worried is going to convicted under a reckless standard? >> teenager, shooting off their mouths or making ill-timed sarcastic comments which wound up getting them thrown in jail.
case pending of a couple of teenagers in a video game chat room and the other one responded yeah i'm crazy, going to shoot up a kindergarten and eat their beating hearts. as it happened there was a woman in canada watching and reported him to the authorities. he was arrested, held for 4 1/2 months before he was eventually bonded out and still facing trial. texas is one of the many states with subjective intent requirement. there's a good chance he will be acquitted. i would not have a -- >> it's not just a reasonable person. at least as i understand the government's sub admission, reasonable person familiar with the context of the statement. right? if you don't take what's said on the internet and abstract, you're familiar with the context, with the fact that this was a couple of teen anler eage
chat room playing a game. right? >> that's true. but everyone has a different view of what context matters. i don't believe you can say at a priority that is all that will matter. they will say i was put in fear. and what matters in prosecutions, how did he respond? they investigate it. they inform the school. boot strapping quality to the reasonable person attached. you can be -- they can use that as a sign that, look, we took this seriously. a reasonable person would take this seriously. >> and on the basis of the briefs, there were two separate questions, one has to do with the state of mind and the other doesn't. the one that doesn't has to do with what the person does, what he does and he has to do this or
he's not guilty, he has to communicate a true threat. what is a true threat? well it's a true threat, you've seen definitions, instruction that is given is similar to ones well embodied in the law. what you have to do is in order to get a true threat, a true threat is a threat that a person would understand to convey a serious expression to inflict bodily injury or take the life of an individual. there's a second question i find more difficult. it has to do with the state of mind. and that is what i want to know your view about. because i saw nothing in the government's brief that says a person could be convict ed through negligence. rather what they say. and that is you have to know that you are doing those things that are the elements of the
crime. you have to know that you are transmitting in commerce a true threat, as i've just defined it. and if you don't know that, you're out. you're home free. now, that, i would say, is model code, that is sort of the statement of criminal law that i met, which may be only a few. i don't know many that contradict that. so why is that not the end of this case? >> the way you're explaining it is different than the way i think the government is explaining. you seem to be suggesting that he knows that a reasonable person would be placed in fear. >> he has to know that. >> no. >> and i will ask the government the same question i have in their brief things that i think what they're saying is the way i'm saying it. they may say perhaps something else. that's up to them. >> my understanding of the government's position -- >> forgetting their position for the moment, what do you think of the position i just talked of?
>> the way i understand your permission, he had to know a reasonable person -- >> yes, he does. certain elements, bank robbery, you have a threat. you have to know, et cetera. so you have to know. >> true threat. >> the thing is, though -- >> i wouldn't have asked it if i didn't want your view. so what is your view? >> i'm trying hard to give it to you. [ laughter ] if the government's view is that mr. elonis had to know that a reasonable person would interpret that as a threat, i would think that would be a big improvement, i would not view that as a bad thing as well. >> you wouldn't go along with that? >> i would prefer that he has to know that -- >> but, that would cover the situation in which somebody
transmits an interstate commerce, a warning that al qaeda is going to assassinate a certain person. that's technically covered by this statute, isn't it? whoever transmits -- any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another, this contains a threat. the threat of al qaeda. right? >> i'm not sure that would be viewed as a threat because it's not, you know, stating one's intention. it's stating your intention. to cause physical harm. >> you're back to what the intention of the sender is. that statement eliminates the intention of the sender, doesn't it? >> because, again, we're just talking the threat -- the question is whether it's your statement of intent to cause harm versus your warning somebody of somebody else's intent to cause harm.
>> exactly. that's a big difference and i thought you took account of that difference, somebody in fear. >> that is right. and our position -- >> once you eliminate that, you can accept justice breyer's -- >> but among the many things wrong with that, i'm not the only one that says this is a negative stand art. justice marshal said it. judge sutton said it. you're basing it not on what he knew, but on what a reasonable person would have known under the circumstances. >> properly instructed jury can convict if it is instructed that the defendant communicated that -- threat with the intent to cause fear or intimidation to the victim? >> yes.
>> and would you accept anything less than that in this case? >> i think the closest thing is that he knew a reasonable person would be placed in fear. >> but that's what -- that's the way i read this instruction. >> i disagree. if a reasonable person, not if he knew that a reasonable person would have that reaction. >> he makes a statement. >> he intentionally makes a statement. and it happens. he intentionally makes a statement. he says these words and a reasonable person viewing the words would view it as a threat. and that's why -- >> then it seems to me that you isn't accept anything lesser than the instruction that we first agreed upon as your preferred position. >> again, it's my understanding that the government is not accepting the idea that if he knew that a reasonable person would be placed in fear, he would be guilty. my understanding is you're saying if he knew the words he said and also a reasonable person would view those as a threat, he is guilty.
it as just marshal said in the rogers' case, negligent -- >> the government's brief? >> that's right. a general requirement allows him to be convicted so long as it is sufficient to preclude a conviction based on facts that defendant could not have reasonably known. so they're admitting there he could be convicted of facts he didn't know but he reasonably could have known. >> so what is your answer to the justice a few minutes ago was that it is not necessary for the defendant to have the purpose of causing fear. but it's sufficient for the defendant to have knowledge that it will cause fear. >> that's right. >> which of the two is it? i'm going to answer justice kennedy. i thought you said that intent which i take to mean purpose is what is necessary. >> this is one of the things, the reason why we all hate this code era. lafade says subjective intent includes purpose, which we're
not asking for, and knowledge that it's a virtual certainty that something is going to happen and do you it anyway. it's intent of. >> so you're saying it's knowledge that it will cause fear on the part of the -- an average recipient or the particular recipient? >> what we're asking for is the particular recipient. but even a reasonable person would be a step up from what i understand the government is offering. >> so you could continue, you were telling me how that would be proved. what is in his head? he knew that she or a reasonable person would be put in fear. so how does the government prove that? >> the government prove it by proving the circumstances. what he said, you know, how he saw people reacting to it, his own personal statements about things at the time. >> and the facts of this case on remanned, could the government receive on this evidence with your instruction, would there be enough to go to the jury with your preferred instruction?
>> i believe there would be enough to go to a jury. we think this is a triable case though. if i can point out, one thing in particular -- >> wait. before you depart from your view, i understood that to be your view, but if i understand it correctly, when you have this disaffected divorced husband who wants to place his former wife in fear, he doesn't call her up. but a friend of his who knows about his malicious intent calls up the former wife and says, you know, your former husband has threatened to kill you. now why wouldn't that meet all the requirement that's you insist upon? knowing that this would cause fear in her.
the only thing missing is it is not his purpose to cause fear in her. but once you depart from that purpose, you open the door to a situation like that which it doesn't seem to me should be covered. >> i thought it was the idea that, i mean he is causing a series of events that results in his wife being told that he wants to kill her. >> i'm not prosecuting him. i'm prosecuting his friend who calls the former wife and says your former husband has threatened to kill you. >> and -- >> it's not his purpose to put her in fear. but it certainly puts her in fear. and any reasonable person would think -- >> i think the thing that is missing is that it is a warning. it's not a statement of his -- he is not saying i'm going to call -- force. >> exactly. he doesn't have the purpose of putting her in fear.
so you're back to purpose which you keep denying. and i don't see how you can get to where you want to be without putting purpose in there. >> well, in any event it is our position that it is a big step up from a reasonable person to at least have it based on his understanding that when i say this, it will pup that person in fear. >> it's better but not good enough. >> justice ginsburg, i want to point out that there are a plethora of statutes that require subjective intent, you know, fraud, crimes, drug crimes. you can prove a person's intent the same way do you in all the other cases through the circumstances surrounding it and statements to cohorts and things that sort. >> let me give you a concrete example. this is a kbhuncommunication in case. this is on -- this is exhibit six on 335, the appendix. >> that's it.
i've had about enough. i'm checking out and making a name for myself. you initiate the most heinous school shooting ever imagined and hell hath no fury like a crazy man in a kindergarten class. there is some individual that makes this comment. suppose there is somebody that is altered. he puts just kidding, kidding, laughing out loud and then he puts tongue dougie aspiring rap artist. what is a jury to do with that under your theory? you have to get into this mind of this obsessed, some what disturbed individual to tell -- to figure out whether he really knew that this would cause a panic on the part of the school officials and parents who found out about this? >> yes. that's exactly -- and it's the same thing that juries and congress -- >> congress wanted to say this
is okay. it's all going to turn this inquiry into a really strange -- >> i will say that at the time it was very -- if you look there are two things that book end this. there is the benedict case, i believe that it is, state versus benedict out of vermont from 1839 and you have the warton criminal procedure. both of them say you have to prove a threat statute, you have to show intent to cause fear. and they don't say anything about doing it under a reasonable person. >> any example just given, i guess there would be a jury question of whether he knew that a reasonable person would take this communication as a threat. the fact that he put at the top rap lyrics when he's not a rap artist and the fact that he put at the bottom, just kidding, just kidding would perhaps one will argue by the prosecution convince the jury that, of course he knew that. if on the other hand, i mean, you know, we have many difficult
factual questions as to knowledge. is this more difficult than -- >> that's right. you know, these are things that prosecutors face every day. they always get somebody in court saying, you know, i didn't mean it. i didn't think that, you know, i thought the deal was going to work. and they convict people of fraud hundreds times a year. >> you really have me confused at this point. your previous statement relied upon that case and the warton by saying it requires an intent to cause fear. i did not understand that to be your position. i thought your position is you did not need the intent to cause fear. it's enough if the reasonable product of this statement is to cause fear. >> i'm sorry, i have not made my -- >> you know that. that's not an intent to cause fear. it's just knowledge that fear will ensue. >> it's our understanding that the two things that count as specific intent under the kind
of old precode are purpose and doing something with the knowledge that something is virtually certain to happen. and so we believe that is an intense standard. and, you know -- >> when we have look at fighting words statutes, we never applied this kind of heightened intent. as i understand, fighting words prosecutions, all the government has to show is that you said something that would cause a reasonable person to punch you in the face. and that's all we ask. so why shouldn't this be basically the same as that? >> it's a different tradition. fighting words, traditionally, there wasn't an inquiry. there is some that required it and others there aren't. there was this traditional requirement that person had to place a person in fear. here's the reason behind it which is fighting words has been essential lly wit willed down ta